They exist in every organisation, they do. But you may not notice their existence because they are just so quiet. Introverted or just plain shy, such individuals are appreciated for rarely contributing to workplace drama. However, because they are so reserved when interacting with others, it is difficult to get to know them, and tougher yet to get them to open up to others.
That said, despite their reserved personalities, such individuals do have ideas to share and contributions to make. Everyone has something to contribute after all, and it would be unwise to think otherwise.
Nonetheless, because they so frequently shun the limelight, they are just as often shadowed by their more outgoing counterparts. Thus, their thoughts and opinions have to be elicited from them, but carefully, delicately, to avoid a situation where they withdraw into their shells permanently.
So how can you draw out the ideas of these individuals who would rather stay glued to the computer screen than participate in meetings with their extroverted counterparts? Here is some information to help you:
1. Observe & Listen
Sounds simple, but often the toughest in implementation. The key is to observe. If you think that their voices are being drowned out by more outgoing, assertive individuals, pull them aside. Speak to them individually to solicit their opinions.
However, take note that such individuals are likely to express their opinions only to people they trust highly, and even then might only mention them once. So once again, observe. Observe, and find out who these trusted individuals are, who they are likely to spend lunches with, spend time chit-chatting, gossiping with. If you have pulled the introverted individual aside, but fail to learn anything of importance, approach those he trusts, and ask them. They may know more than you think.
In the case that you are fortunate enough to have a quiet individual approach you to tell you about his ideas, praise the heavens, because you are one heck of a lucky guy! Jokes aside, ask him a series of questions to solicit as much as you can out of him. But take care that you do not at any point convey the impression that you are distracted or uninterested, because if you do, it will be harder to gain their trust in future.
2. Ask & Act
Asking for feedback is an important part of the growth process. This is true in a corporate setting as well. To make a company grow, obtaining the feedback of various individuals can be vital, as it provides opportunities for development and progress. However, soliciting feedback is not easy sometimes, because of the widespread belief that the feedback provided will not be listened to or utilised in any way.
Therefore, if feedback is requested, one has to be prepared to act on it. For feedback from shy individuals, there is nothing more important than this. They need to know that giving their feedback is not meaningless. Otherwise, they will not give it. If such an individual steps up to provide feedback, not only is it necessary to listen, it is imperative that the initiative is taken to carry out his suggestions, even if it has to be put on hold for a year. Never provide mere lip service.
If his idea is impractical in theory or application or it can only be implemented after some time, then explain why it is so. For instance, it could be because of budget or time. Nonetheless, it is important to make that individual believe that you genuinely feel that his opinions are important and you are glad they share their thoughts.
3. Acknowledge & Understand
Everyone wants his achievements and accomplishments acknowledged by others — there is a feel good factor. However, for an introverted person, nothing is more devastating than having his name emblazoned over a plaque placed in a prominent area, or being called upon the stage during a company event. Therefore, if credit is to be given where it is due, do so subtly. For instance, give a gift certificate or a letter of appreciation personally on a normal working day.
Ultimately, what a quiet person wants is a nothing more than quiet, peaceful life, devoid of ostentation, devoid of drama. Therefore, the best thing that can be done is for one to understand this desire. If you understand this, then all else will fall in place, and you will have a quiet comrade who will confide in you and whom you can confide in.
What do you think? Any opinions as to how to encourage a quiet team member to speak up? Let us know in the comments section below!
Credits to Fun Team Building with Larry Lipman for inspiring this piece. To read the original, click here.